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Friday, April 20, 2012


Sometimes I wonder where the magic dividing line lies between telling my stories and trespassing on somebody else’s privacy. For instance, my sister climbed a fire tower when we were little. Our family was camping in a remote place where fire towers exist. These are monumental structures where you can climb up thousands of steps above the tree line to make sure there isn’t any smoke in the forest. I’m not really sure why they build these things since I’m pretty sure there’s never been a forest fire east of the Mississippi or north of the Great Lakes, but we have fire towers, and my sister decided to climb one. She climbed it from the outside, which was basically a suicide mission on roughhewn timber scaffolding. So this is Sis’ story, except since Sis was a trendsetter for me, I followed. Then it became my story too.

Sis said once that I’m always the hero in my stories. Well of course! They’re my stories. If she wants to be the heroine, she should write her own stories. Why would I point out stupid stuff I initiated? There’s no glory in telling about the time I convinced my little brother to put a darning needle into the electrical outlet, even though the results did satisfy my scientific curiosity. It just goes to show that I had a sense of self-preservation not shared by at least a couple of my siblings.

For some reason, our parents didn’t approve of our spirit of exploration. I got yelled at for electrocuting my brother, and Dad almost had a heart attack when he saw Sis and I hanging off the fire tower. I suppose it’s kind of amazing he didn’t have a heart attack when he ran up all those thousands of stairs and through the supporting scaffolding to pluck us off the thing.

So is that Sis’ story or mine? At that age I’m not sure I really understood we weren’t two incarnations of the same person, or maybe she was my wicked twin, or possibly the person I wanted to become. My siblings were at least as important to my formation as our parents or anyone else in our lives. I have two older sisters, and both of them provided examples for me to follow with friends, boys, and fire towers. How can I talk about my experiences without crossing that magic line of discussing their lives too?

This subject came up recently when someone (not Sis), called to censor this blog – ironically the “vocal” week when I described how I had been told to be quiet too many times. It isn’t that I’ve said anything untrue, I’m just not supposed to talk about certain things. For instance, saying that my childhood friend was killed or calling my skinny grandma (SG) “evil” is out of bounds. It doesn’t matter that my friend’s murder was in the paper and is common knowledge. Shhh. It doesn’t matter that I disliked SG, my censor liked her and that’s the important thing. Besides, the internet is forever. Time for a refresher course in “Be quiet!”


In some ways, writing takes more courage than climbing a fire tower. I was young and athletic when I climbed the tower, and pretty sure I wasn’t going to die doing it. Writing can open me up to criticism and expose my tender feelings, but as I told my censor, I have a right to my feelings. If it goes down in infinity that I loved Fat Grandma (FG) and disliked SG, why can’t I say so? FG fed me homemade blueberry waffles, and SG tried to make me eat the rabbit that I played with that day. SG put chopped carrots and celery in Jell-o, and FG made cookies. SG hit me, FG hugged me. Really, isn’t it easy to see which side of this I would choose? If it goes into the permanent internet record that SG hit me, is it my fault for writing about it, or hers for doing it in the first place?

Mostly, I like this blog to be a happy place. I can rise above and mostly talk about happy topics. I know people don’t want to be brought down by my ghosts, but sometimes the negative stories are funny, and people like to laugh. I mean really, once you get past the horror of carrots and celery in Jell-o, can’t you laugh about it? Well, even if you can’t, there are always cookies…

Grandma Lee’s Date Roll Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs

4 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Roll into a rectangle, then spread with this cooked and cooled filling:
7 ounces of chopped dates
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped nuts

Roll into a log, wrap in waxed paper, and chill.Slice into individual cookies and bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.


  1. A beautiful illustration, and an excellent story. Some of my best stories are ones that are part of family lore told by my parents about my childhood exploits that I don't remember. Apparently I was a very mischievous toddler. And they all inevitably involved my sister, so I appreciate this post.

  2. Keep writing your stories. Lovely image.

  3. You always soar to great heights with your drawing and writing Linda. Don't change anything! I love reading about all your exploits. Have a great weekend,
    Jane x

  4. ..anybody that would put celery and/or carrots in Jello is obviously at least a half bubble off plumb. You poor girl. No wonder you and your sister struggled to get so high in your youth... LOL

  5. A fun a story of your Sis and your explorations of heights. And of the reactions - and your own thoughts. It's not possible to separate one's own life from others because none of us live in a vacuum (or hopefully we don't). So any time you write something, you inevitably write about others, too. Even so, nobody should try to sensor what you need to write. Just because it might be less positive than some would wish for, it shouldn't be brushed under the carpet. On the contrary. It needs to come out. We too often don't want to face reality, because it's more convenient to turn the other way. Keep at it, you are so good.

  6. Beautiful eagle! And also a nice reminder of freedom. Freedom of speech, in particular. My goodness, you had cojones to climb that water tower!

  7. I love hearing about your childhood adventures. Keep them coming!

  8. I do not think I would have survived parenting you! I like how the eagle looks almost human in hi pose!!

  9. I have to say--that stories belong to the person who is telling them. You're not "tattling" on those people, and you're not telling THEIR stories; you're telling your own stories--which happen to be influenced by other people. Your stories intersect with other people. Your stories are populated by other people.

    This was actually something I actually had to learn, though, the line between my stories and someone else's stories. I don't think you've crossed any lines, and I, for one, thoroughly enjoy them. Keep telling them.

    (and I really like the eagle too)

  10. Thanks so much everybody! (Hopefully my censor is reading your comments.) I suppose my mother might have some opinions about what it was like to parent me, but thankfully she hasn't created her own blog to tattle on me :)

  11. Helloooooo... this is a blog! It's your blog Linda, write whatever you want! Censor sounds like a bit of a control freak?

    I love the bald eagle, such a majestic pose!

    We do have fire towers here, and we do have some nasty forest fires. You wouldn't get me up in one of those towers though!

  12. As a third party reading your blog, of course I'd say, write whatever you want. But as a person whose life may be written about (indirectly) when I want to stay private, I can understand why some people will be bothered by it (myself included).

    That's just my 2 cents- the other point of view.

  13. Beautiful eagle illustration Linda, and i love your uncensored stories!

  14. First of all, I SO envy your genetic makeup that allowed you to climb the fire tower! I'd get to the equivalent of 1 story and get nauseated.

    I relate to this post; although, I haven't the courage to spill the beans. Ohhh, the number of husband, children, extended family, and friend stories I'd like to tell! And really, they're not bad. They're about real life as you've described in this post about your grandmas.

    But, some people are sensitive and easily embarrassed, sooo... for now, I'll hold my tongue - or shall I say, my fingers.

    To you, I say, Go For It! We're living in an age where Big Brother reigns, so why not?

    Nice eagle. Did it inspire the post, or did the post inspire the drawing of the eagle?

  15. The soaring eagle is fabulous, & I loved the firetower story! I personally do not like vegetables in my jello, nor would I ever eat rabbit. The "Censor" may enjoy both, and that's OK. But this is your story, your blog, and your point of view. I look forward to reading more from YOU! :)

  16. Wow! It doesn't matter who told the story..I'm just glad you told it. Amazing! Wonderful illustration and watertower image..you sure were/are brave and amazing, Linda!

  17. Thanks everybody! I'm going to keep writing what I feel like writing, though I'm not insensitive to other people's feelings. I don't think I've written anything that would embarrass anyone who wouldn't laugh too at a particularly funny memory :)

  18. A beautiful image...majestic.
    I love 'your' stories. Everybody has their own point of view - even when two people have a shared experience, they will tell it in different ways. For what is worth, you have inspired me to write longer and more personal entries in my blog and I wish to thank you for that.

  19. I feel celebrating all your memories - even the rotten, frightening, awful ones beside the quietly joyful, ear-splittingly wonderful and globally-jealousy-evoking - is the only way to go. Who would you be if not for all these experiences? Glad your Censor spoke up too - a wonderful opportunity to stick to your truths, and ask for theirs - a great place to start a conversation (and unfortunately, sometimes, to hang up the phone). Another wonderful post

  20. hya Linda :) well i came for a visit today and as i started reading i kinda settled down im chair so i could enjot it saaaall the more... settled down subconsciuolsy mind you, it must be a learned response, from my previous visits :) and i wasn't dissapointed what a great writer you are - and i l ove the wing feathers on the eagle how you have captured the reflected light with the tooth of the paper

    see you soon

  21. Fantastic eagle Linda! Love the angle, the light and the mood. Great post as well. Your writing has reached new Heights!

  22. I inspired somebody! Yay! I love reading other people's stories too. Thanks for the comments!!

  23. I LOVE your eagle! I agree with Jack...you continue to reach new heights---on all fronts!